Speaking to TASS, Bakhtier Khakimov said that the organization's expansion is a natural process and "the issue is on the agenda, everyone understands that it has to be resolved".
Khakimov pointed out that 'openness' is one of the principles enshrined in the SCO's charter. "The first step to expand the SCO membership has already been made. Naturally, this process will continue. Accession of India and Pakistan does not mean that the doors to the organization have been closed," the diplomat added.
Iran, which has had an SCO observer status since 2005 applied for membership in 2008. The barriers for its accession were removed with the lifting of UN Security Council sanctions.
The next meeting of the Council of Heads of Government from SCO member-states is scheduled to be held on November 30-December 1 in Russia, Khakimov said.
According to the diplomat, the meeting's agenda includes the development of trade and economic cooperation by taking into account the dominating tendencies in global economy, humanitarian ties in the SCO framework and also the organization's 2018 budget.
The SCO would welcome Mongolia's accession to the organization, but there is no formal request from Ulaanbaatar yet, Khakimov said.
"Mongolia is a country among the potential and, I would even say, desirable candidates for SCO membership. It was the first country to receive observer status at the organization back in 2005," he said.
The diplomat noted, however, that Mongolia has not yet formally applied for membership. "We note very stable interest and willingness of Ulaanbatar to develop relations with the SCO," he said.
The process of incorporating India and Pakistan into the work of the SCO is underway, some technical issues need to be tackled, said Khakimov.
"The process of integrating [India and Pakistan into the SCO's work has been going on steadily and is on the ascent," he said.
The diplomat recalled that New Delhi and Islamabad had joined all the SCO basic documents when the process of their accession to the organization was in progress. "The package of documents they had to join consisted of approximately 30 various agreements beginning with the charter," he explained.
Khakimov noted though that India and Pakistan should also join the documents that are temporarily used by the SCO. "That's why the process will be delayed for some time, but, on the other hand, no one prevents India and Pakistan from joining practical work," he stressed.
The procedure for the accession of India and Pakistan to the SCO was completed at the organization's summit in Astana in June.
The Declaration on the Establishment of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was inked in China's Shanghai in June 2001 by six founding states — Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran and Mongolia currently have observer status while Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Cambodia and Nepal are dialogue partners.